Sunday, March 28, 2010

whO the heck is ed smith?

Oh nevermind .... he was some guy. But Wayward O wouldn't be shocked if Team renamed spring training home some time soon.

It's almost sad that this year's version of Ed Smith will be gone by next year. It was neat to be there for the fleeting experience. It had an old timey, intimate feeling -- but with all of the 8,000+ crowds, it's true the concourses were pretty crowded.



Your obligatory stadium shot

Also -- all kidding aside -- Wayward O recommends Team install cooling room with water fountain for overheated Seniors. It gets hot at 2 p.m. in Sarasota, even in March. Wayward O witnessed no less than three ol' folks get carted out in two day games last week. Yesterday, right after Red Sox game ended, Wayward O saw lady just sitting on ground with police trying to cool her down.

At some level, that's just how it is in Sarasota. But still. Just sayin'.

Right before Friday night game versus Twins, Wayward O had great pleasure of meeting and chatting with O's broadcaster Joe Angel for a bit.



Ask him about handing off to O.J. Simpson

Initial conversation went something like this:

Wayward O: You are Joe Angel, yes?
Joe: Yes.
Wayward O: I wanted to introduce myself. My family and I have been listening to you since ...

Joe: Don't tell me, please.
Wayward O: Since a long time.

Joe is a down-to-earth guy and easy going. He is one of baseball's most talented and interesting broadcasters. He's polite and a bit soft-spoken in person but you can feel his well-known sense of humor and irony bubbling just beneath surface. Team and fans are lucky to have him calling radio broadcasts. And Joe would like to see a winner as badly as anybody. He didn't call Friday night's game but Wayward O thinks he was there to watch Brian Roberts take first hacks.

Also in attendance for all games this spring were our Sun, MASN, MLB.com and local reporting crews. Wayward O can guarantee you, they are earning their money.

What about Team itself? The level of talent is very easily higher today than it has been in recent years. There are a lot of variables in Spring but starting pitching especially appears far stronger.

On Saturday, however, there were at least two base running gaffes. Miguel Tejada scampered up first base line on dribbler and was called safe despite exiting basepath. However, he was subsequently called out for leaving first base bag, presumably because he wasn't granted Time.


Dave gets explanation

This brought out manager for lengthy conversation; a rare site in Spring Wayward O is going to say.

Also, before Team broke through in Fifth, Garrett Atkins, standing on Second, failed to score when a Boston OF couldn't play a warning track shot hit by Justin Turner.* Atkins stood on second, watching play when he should have been halfway to third and should have scored. Instead he made it down to third and Team scored on next at bat.

Will baserunning haunt Team again this year? Probably it won't be as bad as 2009. But there could be a few head scratchers along way.

And Blog can't help it .... looking forward to watching Tejada this year.



Pelotero

Tejada elicits reactions among all fans. Some good. Some bad. But there's just something about his energy that Wayward O has always liked first and foremost. When he says he loves Game, you can bet it's true. But, finish your community service, Miguel!

In next couple weeks publishing could get hairy for Wayward O (see: Google's selfish, summary abdication of FTP publishing and surrounding blogger anger) but as for Team, well Team has Talent. And if a few old Yankees and Red Sox lose a step, LOOK OUT.

* going on memory, could have been somebody else besides Turner who deserved the RBI; not really relevant to Atkins' baserunning gaffe anyway

Labels:

Friday, March 26, 2010

game nOtes

Post will try to hit hilights of B-Rob's Spring Debut. (Hopefully there will be some). And whatever else.


Gettin' Limber

Not much to say about Roberts' first at-bat. He fouled one pitch off and later looked at third strike.

Jacque Jones just went yard -- a LOT of Twins fans in the house.

Young Tillman has looked sharper. B-Rob made nice play tagging out Brendan Harris on steal. Pretty low-key game so far.

B-Rob's second at-bat ... K swinging.

Twins' SP Scott Baker perfect through four innings.

Dr. Jones broke up no-no in fifth. Luke popped out. Reimold singled and Craig Tatum stroked a 2-RBI double to gap in left-center.


Inauspicious...

B-Rob just K'd swinging in third at-bat. That's the fateful pitch pictured above. And that's three strikeouts on night. He's probably done for the evening. Yeah. They just announced Justin Turner coming in to play second now.

Roberts looked pretty tentative with bat tonight. Probably not surprising given back issues he's gone through all Spring.

RoY-Mold just hit first home run of Spring. A moon shot that barely cleared fence, 20 or so feet fair.

Labels:

pressbOx

Wayward O is blogger but Wayward O got press pass to see B-Rob DEBUT v. Twanks.

Wayward O's Grandma lives couple miles from ED SMITH. No Lie!!! She doesn't have INTERNET though so NO POSTS TILL NOW.

Two notes from yesterday's drubbing of Yankees...


Wieters towers over A-Rod!


Team hit ARod with Sprinklers midgame!

Wayward isn't obsessed with Roided One or anything. Just had seats yesterday along third base line. Wayward O has Brooklyn zip code so team stuck Blogger in YANKEE GHETTO when he bought stubs over WEB. That's ZIP CODE DISCRIMINATION!

Oh. Bonus!!

Did you know Ed Smith Stadium is across street from ROLLER DERBY??

No Lie!!


Park & Party at the Stardust!

Labels:

Monday, March 22, 2010

O fights!, part 3


Bell image via Sun
Bear, dino images via, uh, the Internet or something

Labels:

Sunday, March 14, 2010

sOurpusses

Nolan ohfer spring.
Weet swinging outside.
B-rob hasn't shown up yet.
Millwood and Guthrie stink.
Pete Schmuck feeling malaise.
Jones hitting a buck seventy-six.
Tejada starting awake with Bunt Sweats.
Meh.



Thus are you refuted.

Our boy will save us.

Labels:

Friday, March 12, 2010

2kX divisiOnal preview - NL East

Atlanta Braves: Lost Javier Vasquez, who went to Yankees, but Tim Hudson, who basically missed 2009, is back and looking sharp. Hudson joins talented young duo of Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson as well as veteran Derek Lowe on a team that many see as a sleeper pick for a playoff run. Can left fielder Melky Cabrera and right fielder Matt Diaz drive offense? Between them only something like 22 stolen bases all of last year. Closer Billy Wagner looks to revive career.

Florida Marlins: They won 87 games last year and are bringing back same team plus a couple of well-chronicled groin injuries. I'm not sure if they're better than Braves in pitching department, but they have a better offense on paper. Will Hayden Penn make club? Rarely does one hear the terms "veteran pitcher" and "out of options" in same sentence. Wayward O sees the Fish swimming in middle of the proverbial bait ball.

New York Mets: Outfield is a smidge better this year with Jason Bay and Jeff Francoeur replacing Gary Sheffield and Ryan Church. Early reports are that Johan Santana is going to be ready to lead rotation all year. But rest of rotation is a bit junky, frankly. [Hey. Write a letter. It's true!] If Bay gets on wrong side of fans and Reyes' big years are behind him, things could get pretty ugly at Citifield. That said, there's enough talent for Amazin's to be to be surprising as well. Very tough call. Can Francisco Rodriguez get his ERA below 3 again? If K-Rod ERAs below 2.5 and saves 40+ games then Mets will be in running. Yes, Blog is using "ERAs" as verb. Deal with it.

Philadelpia Phillies: Class of division upgraded rotation by dealing Cliff Lee and landing Roy Halladay. Marginal upgrade at third base with Placido Polanco replacing Pedro Feliz. Can they win 100 games? Even odds. Bonus Question: How many more wins does Jamie Moyer need to solidify his HoF resume? Answer: 12. Phillies will kick themselves for dealing Lee if injury bug hits rote.

Washington Nationals: Probably last place again but Wayward O sees them pushing win total into high 60s. Gnarts could finish ahead of Mets if things fall apart again in Queens, N.Y. Expectations are high for Elijah Dukes, who is reported to have a better outlook after last year's demotion to AAA. How many starts will Stephen Strasburg get with the big club this year? Over / under probably about 8.

Predicted Order of Finish:
Phillies
Braves *
Marlins
Mets
Nationals

* wild card contender

Labels:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

2kX divisiOnal preview - AL East

This is going to be hard on you, kid. But trust Wayward O, it's going to be even harder on Wayward O:

Baltimore Orioles: Have stockpiled tons of talent and they're trying to bring it to bear. But hopes of a surprise challenge to Boston and New York are slim for 2010, especially with creeping worries that All-Star second baseman Brian Roberts may face lingering back issues. Just how good are Matt Wieters and Brian Matusz? Very good, Wayward O thinks. There's no reason why the O's couldn't mug somebody this year but if you're making bet, make sure you get odds. Manager Dave Trembley must prove himself by keeping Team focused through September and cutting down on baserunning blunders.

Boston Red Sox: Able hands at every offensive position. A top-notch starting five. Strong bullpen. Is David Ortiz on wane? Even if he is, it hardly matters. Victor Martinez can DH. So could Marco Scutaro. So could Bill Hall. Bonus Question: Why is Hall even on this team? Mike Cameron may have trouble adjusting to weirdly angled Fenway center field -- hardly what you'd call a reason for Sox fans to lay awake at night worrying.

New York Yankees: They have some age problems looming with Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and possibly even the ageless Mariano Rivera. But it's not clear whether 2010 will be the year in which this really becomes an issue. Bombers have better pitching staff than Red Sox, amazingly, but in Wayward O's opinion an ever-so-slightly less potent offense (on paper, anyway). Will Alex Rodriguez' off-field issues distract the club? Doubtful.

Tampa Bay Rays: This could be last year for Rays to show 2008 World Series berth wasn't fluke. They're bringing back four of five starters, minus Scott Kazmir. They're bringing back entire offense. But next year Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena could be gone. Entire team could be gone if city can't muster up stronger attendance. Can they hang with the Yankees and Sox? Not really. 2008 was kind of flukey, dawg.

Toronto Blue Jays: The departure of Roy Halladay has left this team without its standard. The Jays "went for it" two years ago, but had to fire their manager mid-season. They're still paying the price for the B.J. Ryan signing and other moves. Is Brandon Morrow going to make it as a starter? The Jays had better hope so. If not they're going to be beyond irrelevant.

Predicted Order of Finish:
Red Sox / Yankees
Os
Rays
Jays


* probably both heading for playoffs

Labels:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

2kX divisiOnal preview - NL Central

Cincinnati Reds: Highly touted two years ago, right fielder Jay Bruce says his goal for 2010 is to get his offense going and make Reds better. He'll have an even younger teammate in Drew Stubbs playing center. Bruce might be able to fly under radar with arrival of media phenom Aroldis Chapman, who might lead talented rotation including Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto and Aaron Harang. Additions of Scott Rolen and Orlando Cabrera on left side of infield make for your "veteran presence." Not a bad team overall, but it's really all about Aroldis this year. Is he real deal? No idea ... Wayward O is pencilling in Reds for middle of pack.

Chicago Cubs: Is Alfonso Soriano going to stink again this year? That pretty much sums up Cubs' prospects. Team GM Jim Hendry threw former Cub Milton Bradley under bus this week, saying he brought entire team down in 2009. If that's the case then let's see Milton-free Cubs win division.

Houston Astros: They have new manager, new addition to starting rotation in Bud Norris, an ace trying to get healthy in Roy Oswalt, no named closer as of yet and an offense dependent upon aging Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee. So, they're going to stink? Yeah. They're going to stink. Actually, "stink" might be a strong word. And if Oswalt and Berkman can reclaim past form maybe they'll be surprising.

Milwaukee Brewers: The Crew got (a little) younger and added Randy Wolf to a starting rotation that features Yovani Gallardo, who many believe is on track for a breakout 2010. If the "kids" -- Casey McGehee and Alcides Escobar -- on the left side of infield can hit .300, as they each did in limited work last year, Brewers will have a very potent offense. Playoffs? If they keep it loose, sure.

Pittsburgh Pirates: When you talk your way off Mets and then stink at Nationals, there's really only one place left to go. That's why you'll find Lastings Milledge playing the outfield for Buckos this year. Pirates are trying to get better where they can. Is center fielder Andrew McCutchen a star? He might be. Brendan Donnelly in bullpen and Aki Iwamura in infield are talented additions. Heck, if things get bad enough in Houston, Pirates could end up outside of cellar for once.

St. Louis Cardinals: Carpenter and Wainwright and pray for rain, right? Wayward O sees Mark McGwire sucking up much of spotlight in St. Louie this summer. Albert Pujols is mad good. So is Matt Holliday. Over all Wayward O thinks Cubs have more talent. But Wayward O says this every year and every year Cardinals outplay them.

Predicted Order of Finish:
Cardinals
Cubs *
Brewers *
Reds
Astros
Pirates

* wild card contenders

Labels:

2kX divisiOnal preview - AL Central

Chicago White Sox: Have a great starting five with addition of Jake Peavy and Freddy Garcia. A healthy Alex Rios should be plus for offense. On paper this team really does look like a World Series contender, with strength at every position and a solid bench to boot, although they may have a problem at closer if the '08 vintage Bobby Jenks doesn't return. Between Ozzie Guillen, A.J. Pierzynski, GM Ken Williams, Rios and the rest, are there too many mouths?

Cleveland Indians: Jake Westbrook, Tribe's purported young ace, is pitching on tenterhooks this spring, hoping his Tommy John doesn't come apart. After a huge 2007, number two starter Fausto Carmona has seen his ERA balloon to about 6 over last two years. Closer Kerry Wood is just trying to hang on to his career at this point. Do they have any reasonable shot at postseason? Not really. Offense, not to mention pitching staff, will suffer without Victor Martinez.

Detroit Tigers: Max Scherzer has a hell of a lot of talent and joins a potentially devastating rotation led by Justin Verlander and augmented by probable return of healthy Jeremy Bonderman. With Johnny Damon penciled in for left field, how many games will Ryan Raburn get into? Raburn had a wonderful year in 2009 and is as solid a fourth outfielder as there is in baseball. D-town is excited about Austin Jackson, penciled in for center field, but he may be a little young to lead Tigers to a division title.

Kansas City Royals: Wayward O put too much pressure on Royals last year, predicting a division win and getting a basement finish for his trouble. Not this year. Nope. Ol' powder blue is back to mediocrity. Most positive development? Same starting five coming back and Joakim Soria might become a big star at closer.

Minnesota Twins: Ooooooh shnikey! Joe Nathan has a torn ligament in his elbow. That is very big deal. They say he's going to rest and strengthen for a couple weeks and try to avoid surgery but we all know ligaments don't just heal. You still got to get a quack to cut you open and fix those things. 47 saves in 2009 with a 2.10 ERA. Can you say that without Nathan the Twins are in trouble? Yes. I would say so, especially with talented Tigers and ChiSox lurking. There really is no immediate closer answer currently on Twins roster.

Predicted Order of Finish:
White Sox
Tigers*
Twins
Royals
Indians

* wild card contender

Labels:

Monday, March 8, 2010

2kX divisiOnal preview - NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks: Upgraded offense by bringing in Adam LaRoche to play first base. Probably downgraded a little at second base after trading Felipe Lopez at deadline and bringing in Kelly Johnson from Atlanta after season. Budget-minded Dbacks' season depends on whether third baseman Mark Reynolds can repeat monster 2009 (44 HR, 102 RBI -- really only good enough for 20th in MVP ballot?) and whether Brandon Webb's comeback from surgery is successful. What the heck is Valley Fever?!? Note to self: Avoid this ailment.

Colorado Rockies: Had five starters post winning records on way to playoffs last year. Can returning Jeff Francis replace departure to Nationals of Jason Marquis? Rocks' potent offense returns pretty much as it was last year, led by Todd Helton and Troy Tulowitzki. Wayward O sees a seasoned team primed for a division win.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Amid owner's divorce court battle and revelations his sons are on Dodger payroll to tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, doing nothing, even as team is jacking up ticket prices, phantom injuries already are popping up in spring training. Catcher has a "groin pull." Third baseman has a "strained rib cage." Puhleeze. Can they stay out of tank? Not likely. Also they will miss Randy Wolf, who departed for Milwaukee. L.A. Dodgers are looking at a lost season and Manny Ramirez might be had at deadline.

San Diego Padres: Jake Peavy left for White Sox and Adrian Gonzalez likely will be gone by deadline. Kevin Kouzmanoff is gone. They did bring in John Garland to play role presumably similar to Kevin Millwood's perceived role for Baltimore Orioles - shoring up young rote. Can they finish ahead of L.A.? Probably not because L.A. has talent. The Padres are bad and they appear to be getting worse.

San Francisco Giants: Biggest barrier to Diamondbacks' hopes of sneaking into Wild Card chase is going to be Giants' pursuit of same. Aubrey Huff looks like an upgrade at first base over Travis Ishikawa. Mark DeRosa appears to be an upgrade over young Fred Lewis, who failed to establish himself as the left fielder after a weak 2009 and is scrapping to make big club this year. Will Giants be players in trade market? Yeah. For example, Wayward O could see Manny Ramirez moving to S.F. at deadline.

Predicted Order of Finish:
Rockies
Giants *
Diamondbacks
Dodgers
Padres


* wild card contender

Labels:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

2kX divisiOnal preview - AL West

Wayward O can't preview changes to blog template and soon will be forced to ditch blogger altogether. Not great timing because this is big time of year for baseball. Might as well get started on divisiOnal previews a bit early; usually blog would wait an additional two weeks or so in order to get more Spring hints.

Starting off in the AL West this year for no particular reason. Baseball has seen fit to unfairly grant teams in division 25 per cent shot at playoffs each year. But AL West also is division that added more overall talent than any other save arguably the monied, free-agent hungry AL East.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Appear at first glance to have treaded water over offseason, but roster shows core talent remains and team by no means has seen rotation come apart with departure of John Lackey. Will new third baseman Brandon Wood be as impressive as fellow prospects-turned-stars Howie Kendrick and Eric Aybar? Last year Angels barely missed departure of Mark Teixeira as Kendry Morales put up huge season. Wayward O sees same scenario playing out this year -- look for well-managed Angels to barely miss departures of Lackey and Chone Figgins and chug their way to 90+ win season.

Oakland As: Have plugged three veterans -- third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff, center fielder Coco Crisp and top starter Ben Sheets -- into youth equation that wound up in last place with a respectable 75 wins in 2009. If Crisp plays all year and stays healthy, Sheets stays healthy too and Crushin' Russian's OBP doesn't fall further in ballpark where foul balls go to die, maybe As make some noise. Side note: Wayward O finds this Team's prospects especially difficult to predict year-in, year-out. Could be the Green Unis. Not sure. Is young Trevor Cahill a budding Zack Greinke? Arguably comparable righties but Cahill's ERA would need to take a comparable drop off proverbial cliff.

Seattle Mariners: Addition of Cliff Lee and Chone Figgins made big news over winter. Can you call them 'chiq pick' when everyone is picking them? Wayward O would like to point out that Ms are relying on two of baseball's notorious head cases -- Erik Bedard and Milton Bradley -- to drive them into postseason. Another key to Ms season is righty Ian Snell, who is something of a head case himself. If Snell can put his post-Pittsburgh stress disorder behind him and anchor 3-spot in Seattle rote until Bedard is ready, Mariners could be a force. It's a near-certainly Mariners will trade for a power bat at some point. Wayward O goes along with those penciling Ms into playoffs but has also purchased eraser.

Texas Rangers: Core of Ranger offense rests on shoulders of Vladimir Guerrerro and Josh Hamilton, both of whom are coming off injury plagued, down years. Vlad said to be healthy; Hamilton not so much. Meanwhile Rangers are excited about starting rotation! So let me get this straight, Texas has pitching but not enough hitting? That's how it looks from here. Weird. Actually they might not have enough pitching either.


Predicted Order of Finish:
Mariners
Angels*
Rangers
As

* wild card contender

Labels:

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Of march and april

For Wayward O's money, these are best two months to be fan of Team. Spring is our time to dream of possibility, to measure talent and wonder if this is Year where talent translates to wins and wins translate to magic.

Heck, early promise could be over quickly: Team has 10-game road trip during second half of April in Oakland, Seattle and Boston. Then Team caps month hosting Champs for 4-game set.

If Team comes home from trip with hideous record, then gets pummeled by Frankenteam, then strap on Manager Firing Pants and get ready for long, messy year.

But for now. For now? Mostly we're focusing on aforementioned promise.

Many fans in many cities are in same boat. But some fans -- some fans simply choose to leave boat, reject hometown allegiances and root for whichever team has best chance of success.

Last week Wayward O was at poker table in Big Sky, Mt., and was talking with man wearing Red Sox hat, who disclosed he was from D.C. but could not root for Nats because they have "no chance of winning."

Wayward O couldn't tell if guy was completely serious -- but by his play it quickly became clear he was front-runner in all facets of life. Fold bad hands, play good ones. And, well, would YOU just don a Sawx hat on whim? No. No, you wouldn't. Not even if you were 2,000 miles from home.

Wayward O didn't bother to tell poker mate of Team. That would have engendered dreaded, shop-worn conversation about "how can you root for them?" Well, friend, sometimes it's fun to play losing hand. And sometimes, if you play it just right, it becomes winner!

And that's what we're all talking about in Diaspora these days. We know Team has talent and we know Team has desire. What we don't know is whether ephermal spark, X-factor, je ne said quois, or whatever one calls it, will join us for 2o1o campaign and, if it does, whether our young kids have enough brains and muscle to keep up elusive magic for six months.

Anyway, to all fans of Team, Wayward O says: Bless you and your loyalty. And enjoy next two months -- our time of promise. Maybe this is Year we extend Spring hopes into Summertime magic.

Labels:

hOme